Before Emerson College’s School of the Arts Graduate Hooding Ceremony students eagerly awaited on the fourth floor of the Paramount Center on May 11, 2019. Their family and friends lined outside the theater on Washington Street as the sun appropriately beamed down.
The hour leading up to the ceremony included final behind-the-scenes touches, technical checks, the humming of the Pomp and Circumstance, and plenty of selfies.
Here is that last hour presented in photographs.
During Saturday’s Graduate Hooding Ceremonies students were applauded for earning their degrees while juggling full-time jobs, side gigs, children, stateside family and abroad, coursework, and more.
They cheered each other one-by-one as they walked across the Paramount Theater stage to receive their diplomas.
Here are some excerpts from the 2019 School of the Arts and School of Communication ceremonies.
Invocation by Reverend Julie Avis Rogers, MDiv
Today is a day when we celebrate the achievements, the papers, creations, and stories that you have brought forth into this world. Indeed, all that you have said and all that you had done is worthy of our great celebration today.
For on this day we remember the challenging yet truth-filled words of the great writer Maya Angelou who wrote that, “People may forget what you said. People may forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Ceremony Address by Jan Roberts-Breslin, MFA, Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies
You’ve bonded in your struggles and successes. You’ve workshopped each other’s writing. You’ve spent long hours on each other’s film sets. You’ve encouraged each other through the challenges of student teaching. You’ve wondered together how you will ever get through it, while juggling, jobs, families, relationships and being far from home. But somehow you have. Take a minute to bask in that success.
Whether you find your inspiration through disciplined routines or by opening your mind and either summoning the muse or waiting for it to sneak up and nibble at your consciousness, embrace it and keep telling your stories. Teach us, change us, challenge us, touch our emotions, make us laugh, inspire the world to be better. So go forth, be bold, be kind, and hold Emerson in your hearts as we here will hold you in ours.
Graduate Student Address by Steven Barthelemy-Luna
I’ve never been part of a community so eager to help each other. Our passion towards our work and towards each others work certainly connects us all. But of course, as artists, we are also connected by our appreciation to solitude. Being alone is just nice sometimes. We write alone, read alone, and we often get lost exploring our inner-thoughts and imagination. However, even in our solitude, we are connected. And we hope that one day, others will get to see what we see in our minds; these things and stories that we create, alone. It makes me think of a poem by Ocean Vuong where he writes that
“The most beautiful part of your body
is where it’s headed. & remember,
loneliness is still time spent
with the world.”
It means the world that I get to call myself an artist. But it’s hard. It’s still a struggle to do so, because I put a lot of weight into that word. Knowing how hard my family worked, and continues to work, and I’m just here playing with cameras. But it’s because of that generational awareness, that art is deeper than that to me.
Art is life and death to me. It’s that important.
Art comes from wounds, and hearts, and wounded hearts.
Art has the capability to move mountains, to lift spirits, to communicate across languages and mediums and to get something across that only the stars could make us feel.
All I ask of my fellow classmates is to keep this reminder with them, for as long as they can. To not take art for granted. To remember that when we hold a camera, when we represent a space, or communicate an idea; when we write a story, or create characters that can speak for many or for a select few; to do so with empathy in our hearts. What we do, and where we are going, is a place not many people get to reach, and it is our responsibility to be humble, and to lead with love. Because those who see our light, are not the lucky ones. Like the stars, We are the lucky ones, to be in a position where we can be seen.
It’s taken me three and a half years to complete my degree while working full time and raising my daughter. Every single credit earned was one step closer. Some semesters I managed eight, one semester I managed none. There are so many ways I could tell my graduate student story. I like statistics, so I’ll share a few personal numbers from my time at Emerson. Three different cars. Three professional jobs and a few side gigs. One divorce. Three therapists. Six siblings to lean on. $234 spent at coffee shops while writing my thesis this semester. Countless fresh starts.
While we all come from different disciplines and have different aspirations and career goals, the courage and strength to use our knowledge and skills for good should bind us all. Whether that is as an expert in communication disorders helping others to discover their voice, or as a journalist bringing attention to an underrepresented issue. Perhaps you are the next media technology expert who will enhance access to democratic institutions for marginalized groups. Or you’re a PR or marketing expert, ready to tell the story of an innovative brand. I hope that we can all be intentional about planning our next steps, and that we all hold a clear view of our powers and abilities I don’t hold a grandiose dream that I can change the world, but I know I influence those around me. We all can. Now go out and celebrate. Then get to work.